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J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Oct;46(10):1267-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.06.016. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Testosterone levels in suicide attempters with bipolar disorder.

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New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10468, USA.



The best known neurobehavioral effects of testosterone are on sexual function and aggression. However, testosterone and other androgens may be involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and suicidal behavior. This is the first study to examine whether there is a relation between testosterone levels and clinical parameters in bipolar suicide attempters.


Patients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of a bipolar disorder (16 males and 51 females), in a depressive or mixed episode with at least one past suicide attempt were enrolled. Demographic and clinical parameters, including lifetime suicidal behavior, were assessed and recorded. Plasma testosterone was assayed using a double antibody radioimmunoassay procedure.


The number of major depressive episodes, the maximum lethality of suicide attempts, and the testosterone levels were higher in men compared to women. Current suicidal ideation scores were higher in women compared to men. Controlling for sex, we found that testosterone levels positively correlated with the number of manic episodes and the number of suicide attempts.


Our findings are consistent with previous observations of the association between testosterone levels and parameters of mood and behavior. This study suggests that testosterone levels may be related to the course of bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior. Further studies of the role of testosterone in the neurobiology of mood disorders and suicidal behavior are merited.

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